Englishes and Digital Literacy Practices

Authored by: Colin Lankshear , Michele Knobel

The Routledge Companion to English Studies

Print publication date:  March  2014
Online publication date:  March  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415676182
eBook ISBN: 9781315852515
Adobe ISBN: 9781317918929


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Two themes important to English language studies form the background to this chapter. The first is language variety and the sheer plurality and diversity of “Englishes” (e.g. Widdowson 1997). The second is the empirical reality of the “multilingual internet” (Danet and Herring 2007: 3) and the fact that many millions of non-native English-speakers are active participants in online cultural affinities within English-dominant contexts. Specifically, we focus here on the idea that proficiency in social languages is central to realizing and enacting shared knowledge, values and expectations for online communication within spaces of popular cultural affinity. Focusing on social languages expands conventional views of what counts as “English” within digital literacy practices. We consider examples from the growing corpus of work that documents in rich detail diverse cases of language in use by non-native language speakers within online social practices.

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